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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (April 13, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The arrival of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior in the Marshall Islands is part of an international campaign against the American missile defense program.

But, say Greenpeace officials, the organization is not campaigning for closing the Kwajalein missile range.

Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Mike Townsley said that the issue is the so-called "Star Wars" anti-missile program and the negative impact it will have on global security and arms control treaties, not the overall operation of the base at Kwajalein, which employs about 1,200 Marshall Islanders.

"Missile defense is bad for global security," said Greenpeace campaigner Melanie Duchin. "We’re not campaigning for closure of Kwajalein." She said it was unrealistic in a campaign to just call for closing down an industry that would put a lot of people out of work, leaving them in a vacuum.

While in Majuro, the Rainbow Warrior opened its boat to local schools and the community, who toured the vessel and viewed displays and presentations on missile defense issues. They said they planned similar activities for Ebeye.

Townsley said that the proposed missile defense "shield" is providing only the illusion of protection from nuclear attack. The U.S. government’s justification that a "rogue" nation or terrorists will launch one or two nuclear missiles at the U.S. is "ridiculous."

"The easiest, cheapest and least detectable way to get a nuclear bomb to the U.S. is to buy (bomb grade) plutonium in Russia, stick it in a backpack, buy an airline ticket to the U.S., and go and blow up a city," Townsley said.

There are 50 tons of plutonium in the states that now make up the former Soviet Union being stored in what the CIA referred to as essentially "garden sheds," he said. In the past year, funding for security for this weapons grade plutonium has been reduced by 50 percent, he said.

If the U.S. government wants to make the planet more secure from nuclear attack, it would do well to focus on the major threat that this unsecured plutonium in Russia presents instead of throwing billions into missile defense.

Duchin said that that missile defense – with a price tag of tens of billions of dollars – was more about lining the pockets of defense contractors Raytheon, TRW and others than it is about nuclear security.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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